Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed legislation on Monday repealing an old law that allowed for “citizen’s arrests” in response to the alleged murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, by three White men last year.
House Bill 479 repeals a law from 1863 which broadly allowed residents to detain someone they suspected of a crime.
Under the new legislation, private citizens generally cannot detain others and can only use force if it’s in self-defense or to prevent a “forcible felony” such as murder or armed robbery. Business owners are still allowed to detain someone who they believe is stealing. However, they must release them to law enforcement.
Lawmakers in Georgia’s House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the new legislation earlier this year.
At the bill signing Tuesday, Kemp said the new legislation would be “replacing a Civil War-era law ripe for abuse.”
“One year ago a video shocked the world and sickened hearts,” the Republican governor said of the killing of Arbery, who he said was a “victim of vigilante-style violence that has no place in our country or our state.”